Thursday, December 9

Poland says Belarus has changed tack in migrant crisis

(Belga) Belarus has changed tack in the crisis with its neighbor Poland by now directing smaller migrant groups to multiple points along the EU’s eastern border, Poland’s defense minister said on Saturday.

“We have to prepare for the fact that this problem will last for months,” Polish Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told commercial radio station RMF FM. “Now a slightly different method has been adopted by migrants and Belarusian services … Smaller groups of people are trying to cross the border in many places,” he said. To this was added a crowd of 200 people armed with stones and tear gas, attacks directed “without a doubt by the Belarusian services”, according to the minister. The West accuses Belarus of artificially creating the crisis by bringing in potential immigrants – mainly from the Middle East – and bringing them to the border promising them easy passage to the EU. Belarus denied the accusation, blaming the EU instead for not welcoming migrants. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told the BBC on Friday that it was “absolutely possible” that his forces had helped people cross into the EU, but denied orchestrating the operation. “We are Slavs. We have heart. Our troops know that migrants are going to Germany … Maybe someone has helped them,” he said. “But I did not invite them here,” he said. The migrants – mostly Iraqi Kurds – abandoned everything at home, spending thousands of dollars to fly to Belarus on tourist visas, determined to reach the EU. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic on Friday demanded an end to the controversial returns of migrants from Poland to Belarus. According to Polish media, at least 11 migrants have died since the crisis began this summer. Poland last week organized the first burial of one of the migrants – a Syrian teenager who drowned in the border river Bug – and two more burials are planned this weekend. (Belga)

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